Posts Tagged ‘Dylan Klett’

GP Boston-Worcester Preview: Mental Challenges by Dylan Klett

Hey everyone!



Grand Prix Boston (which is secretly Grand Prix Worcester, for those who haven’t been before) is coming up this weekend, and I’m very excited. Not only is this the same venue where I attended my first Grand Prix ever, but instead of the format being M13 Sealed like the last time I was able to attend, it’s Modern!


Modern is the format I most enjoy playing; I feel like the youth of the format combined with the enormous card pool lends itself to some really sweet game states, and it feels like there’s plenty of room for innovation.


Instead of talking about specific cards or decks today, I wanted to take some time to go over some of the more subtle challenges you’ll encounter as a player at a competitive tournament of any size (although this will be especially true at one as large as a Grand Prix). These are often challenges to your mindset, or obstacles that have little or nothing to do with your skill as a Magic player. Your ability to deal with them can sometimes be the difference between coming away from a tournament feeling like you had a great day and a positive experience, or wishing you had spent the time doing literally anything else.


Be prepared for mental fatigue

This becomes particularly relevant when you get into the later rounds, where both you and your opponent have been playing Magic almost non-stop for the past five, six, seven or more hours. Abundant playtesting will be greatly rewarded here; the less you need to think about the fundamental lines of play and choices your deck will present you with, the more brainpower you will conserve in the long run to deal with those tough, win-or-lose situations.


The more familiar you are with the format and your deck, the better. Make no mistake, you will get tired, and the temptation will be there to just jam your cards in the most straightforward way possible. Try to slow down, catch yourself before doing this, and force yourself to think your options through. It will pay off. Nothing makes you walk away from a match feeling quite as miserable as losing to a mistake you would never have made in round one.


Keep the smaller picture in mind

While playing your match, try to block out as much information as possible from coming in that isn’t relevant to the match. Don’t bother checking the text from your friend to see if they’ve won their match or not, don’t worry about what the players next to you are arguing with a judge about.


Don’t think of the match in front of your in terms of how much if left – if you let yourself worry about how many more matches you have to win, you will focus on results, stress yourself out, and risk losing the focus necessary to win the game at hand. Boil your concentration down to a single goal: there is a match of Magic in front of you, right now, and you’re here to win it. Do it.


Keep the bigger picture in mind

Gerry Thompson wrote an article recently where he described all Magic played competitively or with “a mind to get better” as “one big session.” This has stuck with me over the past week or so; I really like the way this is phrased, and the mentality that this implies. Magic is an endlessly complex and difficult game, and to do well requires of us not only that we learn, but that we learn well.


We must put a conscious effort into our improvement as players, and a large part of this means maintaining an openness to being wrong, to making mistakes, and to stop doing something we are comfortable with in favor of doing something new. We must re-evaluate ourselves. Most importantly, it means failing, and failing even when we feel most sure that we can not or should not.


It’s great to win and winning feels great, but when we win, it is easy to gloss over mistakes we may have made on our way to victory, because we got the result we wanted. The real prize is always noticing something you could have done better, and realizing that you will make that decision better next time. When we lose, we are forced to do this — if not by our curiosity, then by our pride.


When playing at an event and you lose in frustrating fashion — that lucky topdeck the turn before they would have died, or your opponent drawing their one sideboard card against you and you not seeing a single one of seven you put in — it’s fine to feel angry, but keep it to yourself or your close friends, let it pass, and let learning from that loss take its place.


To wrap things up, let me give a sweet example:


At a PTQ I was playing a couple weekends ago, I was playing UB Faeries against Splinter Twin in Round Seven. This is an awesome matchup for me, and I know it — the only thing I know I need to watch out for is Blood Moon out of the sideboard, which can completely ruin me if he gets a chance to resolve it. Other than that, it’s very difficult for the Twin player to win, and one of the reasons to play Faeries in the first place.


Game One goes about as planned: I play a Bitterblossom, cast a couple discard and counter spells, and kill him before he can get even close to the combo. Game Two starts off much the same, and I feel very confident; I play turn one discard spell, turn two Bitterblossom, turn three Vendillion Clique, and pass turn four holding up my hand of one Smother, one Dismember. I know his hand is two Pestermites and a Splinter Twin. At my end step, he plays one of his Pestermites. I kill it using Dismember, paying four life despite having four lands available so I can bluff the maximum amount of other possible tricks. I know every card in his hand, and my last card deals with it nicely. He’s dead in two turns. What could go wrong?


blood moon

Blood Moon. That’s what.


Suddenly, I am locked out of casting my Smother because my three basic Swamps in the deck had zero of them in play (which is of course, completely reasonable). My opponent breezily deploys his last Pestermite at the end of my next turn and casts Splinter Twin on it while at three life, with my Smother in hand and helpless to resist. Initially, I was frustrated. I had played as much disruption as it was possible to play against one of my best match-ups and still lost to what felt like dumb luck.


Blood Moon is a stupid card, I wanted to rant. Why is it legal in Modern? It never leads to fun games.


It took me about 10 minutes of being on 45-degree tilt before I realized how I could have won that game, Blood Moon be damned. If I had cast Smother instead of Dismember on his first Pestermite, using my black spell while I still had black mana, I would have still had Dismember in hand when my opponent plucked that Blood Moon off the top of his deck like a ripe fruit. Go ahead, cast your Splinter Twin. I’ll tap my newly minted Mountain and pay four life. Kill it. Kill you. No black mana required.


Instead, I let my confidence in the matchup and my exceptional series of draws cloud my judgment, and I allowed myself to stop thinking of what could make me lose this game. When I stopped thinking about how I could lose, I stopped playing around it. And I lost.


If that isn’t proof that Magic is a wonderful game, I don’t know what is.


About the Author

Dylan Klett is a local competitor who can usually be found at the Plainville store for Friday Night Magic. To request more articles by Dylan, let us know by emailing




Join the Battleground Games & Hobbies community forums!

Please don’t forget to check us out on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @battleground_gh!


BG_ShopOnline_Banner (1)


Tags: , , ,
Posted in Blog, Card Games, Featured Author, Featured Post, Magic: The Gathering | 2 Comments »

Born of the Gods Review by Dylan Klett [Warning: Contains Spoilers]

One of my favorite parts of spoiler season is the itching feeling that I get; no matter how many cards get hyped, overhyped, or underhyped, I always get the feel there’s something I didn’t quite catch when looking for the next sweet piece of constructed technology; or the card people aren’t quite respecting enough in draft and sealed when the set is released. For example, Fanatic of Mogis or Gray Merchant! That keeps my curiosity burning! If I dig a little deeper into the broader picture that a mosaic of interlocking individual cards creates, what patterns will I find? I’ll use this article today to go over some of the new spoilers from Born of the Gods, including a surefire hit, a card that might have a shot to be seen swimming around in the cutthroat waters of constructed, and a few bits of chum that might just have the chops to cut it with the sharks.

Brimaz, King of Oreskos


Let’s start with a strong contender for best card in the set so far. As revealed by Luis Scott-Vargas of ChannelFireball fame,  Brimaz, King of Oreskos provides enormous power and board presence for a minimal cost, giving those of us familiar with the days of Hero of Bladehold a misty eye.

Two numbers that stick out to me as crucially important in determining this card’s place in the Standard metagame: Its converted mana cost of only three mana, and the cat king’s toughness. Toughness is important because it dictates the ability of Brimaz to hold dominance over a game state by outclassing other creatures, but also by defining which pieces of damage-based removal Brimaz can safely ignore. Four toughness means every burn spell except Mizzium Mortars is ineffective in dispatching the feline monarch, a level of damage endurance at three mana that previously belonged only to Loxodon Smiter. This also gives Brimaz the ability to compete with Boros Reckoner at the three-mana creature slot, when previously any non-elephant 3-mana creature would simply be outclassed by the mighty minotaur wizard.

The token generating ability of Brimaz means it plays extremely well with Spear of Heliod (not to mention putting the king himself out of Mortars range), and I would be extremely surprised if Heliod’s favorite toy did not have an increased presence in Born of the Gods Standard. It also triggers Ephara, God of the Polis‘s ability more easily and efficiently than any other card in Standard currently, and I would expect the curve of turn three Brimaz, turn four Ephara, attack, pass to become commonplace.

Another use of Brimaz might be as a defensive creature in control deck’s sideboards, allowing those decks to provide a significant board presence for little investment against aggressive decks packing Soldier of the Pantheon and friends.  This level of versatility and power all point towards an impactful role in the upcoming metagame. Without a doubt, I expect to see the king of Oreskos claim a ringside seat in Standard’s ongoing game of thrones.

Xenagos, God of Revels


Here’s a card that many people seem to be excited about, but I have trouble understanding why. While the art is admittedly sweet, comparisons to Fires of Yavimaya seem to be generous at best. While the promise of a 6/5 indestructible creature with additional abilities for only 3RG may be tempting, if we’ve learned anything from the mono-colored gods of Theros, it’s that the gods are not always willing to come out and play.  Achieving the devotion necessary to get Xenagos, God of Revels’ feet on the ground is going to be difficult, and therefore the card needs to stand on its abilities first if the satyr is going to have legs of any shape in Standard.

So what does the ability really offer us? As a five-mana repeatable pump spell until proven otherwise, Xenagos is too expensive to fit into a traditional red-based aggressive deck that might be packing Burning-Tree Emissary, Ash Zealot, Chandra’s Phoenix or the like. If we were looking for this effect for less of an upfront cost, Ogre Battledriver has been available this entire time, providing haste to the entire team as well as a guaranteed body to add to an aggressive game plan. However, the M14 ogre has seen a grand total of no play in competitive Standard decks, which leads me to believe that Xenagos needs a different home in order to show his darkly grinning face in the realm of competitive Magic.

A pseudo-anthem effect on a midrange-costed card tends to support a strategy filled with mana creatures like Elvish Mystic, Voyaging Satyr, and Sylvan Caryatid, which become less of a dead draw later in the game as well as providing additional devotion, especially after powering out your fatty. Xenagos falls short of providing this service as well however, as enhancing an Elvish Mystic from a 1/1 to a 2/2 is not exactly a game-breaking boost. If our Xenagos deck were also full of large beefy threats, we might as well cast those to begin with and get the beatings going, as opposed to casting Xenagos first. Given that Xenagos cannot even target himself with his ability to allow him to attack the turn he enters play, the God of Revels makes for a poor competitor with the likes of Stormbreath Dragon at the same mana cost. I am not hopeless about this card; Burning-Tree Emissary is one of the most powerful devotion-enabling creatures in the current standard format, leading me to believe that Xenagos may well end up being a creature more often than most other gods, but I would expect that his time in Standard will be brief, if it ever comes.

Ephara’s Enlightenment


This is certain to be one of the premium Heroic enablers in Limited play; being able to target multiple heroic creatures, or even the same one, with only a single card is what made Dauntless Onslaught, Triton Tactics, and friends so powerful in Theros limited. If it were going to be found in a constructed deck however, it would have to be competing with some stiff competition to make the cut. Making Brimaz soar above the battlefield and out of Mizzium Mortars range is certainly appealing, as is providing two devotion to turn on Ephara herself; however, Ajani, Caller of the Pride is capable of doing all of these things and more for the same cost, while also possessing a -3 ability capable of ending games in devastating fashion. If Ephara’s Enlightenment were to see play, it would need to be because of the synergy present with Ajani’s Chosen. Is there a deck capable of exploiting that interaction? What do you think?

Herald of Torment


I don’t think I need to convince anyone when I say don’t pass this card in draft, and consider yourself lucky to open it in sealed. When it comes to constructed, however, I think this card may just be looking for the right home to wreak some havoc from. Boon Satyr is already seeing significant Standard play, and the Herald is nowhere near as demanding as Nighthowler about the kind of deck it wants to be in. In an aggressive deck that’s welcoming to both a 3/3 flier for 3 as well as a powerful set of wings to bestow upon an otherwise uninspiring body (Pain Seer, anyone?) Herald of Torment should be on your radar in the upcoming months.

Fanatic of Xenagos


Here we have the closest example so far of the new Tribute mechanic being powerful in either mode, regardless of the opponent’s situation. Minotaur Skullcleaver and Viashino Firstblade are outstanding creatures – for a turn. Fanatic of Xenagos however, remains at a size capable of outclassing Nightveil Specter, Mutavault, Ash Zealot, and many other commonly played creatures, regardless of whether or not the tribute cost is paid. While the presence of Mono-Blue and its ever-present Tidebinder Mages and Masters of Waves may prevent this from becoming part of a powerful aggressive strategy at the moment, if the metagame shifts in such a way that Mono-Blue is not as potent as it has been the previous season, I would expect this card to fill an important role in any aggressive decks capable of casting it.


That’s all I’ve got for today! Were there any cards you disagreed with? Any cards you’d love to see me review? While my focus as a player is primarily on the competitive aspect of Magic, the most fun I’ve ever had playing the game has been around the kitchen table, not the tournament hall; if there’s a card you’d love to see me break down and analyze, let me know in the comments!







Join the Battleground Games & Hobbies community  forums!

Please don’t forget to check us out on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @battleground_gh!

BG_ShopOnline_Banner (1)


Tags: , , , , , ,
Posted in Blog, Card Games, Events, Featured Post, Magic: The Gathering, Store Related | 3 Comments »